DANNY HARRISON admits he’s been the victim of Tranmere’s success this season – and there wasn’t much he could do about it until recent weeks.
The experienced midfielder returned to Prenton Park in the summer, intent on finding the regular first-team football he’s enjoyed through most of a career split between two spells with Rovers and one with Rotherham United.
But Harrison could only watch from the bench as youngsters James Wallace and Liam Palmer formed the strong central midfield partnership that’s helped to drive Tranmere’s surge to the top of the League One table.
The 30-year-old said: “I came back here to play first-team football. But with the great start we made and with James Wallace and Liam Palmer doing so well, there really wasn’t much I could do to get myself in the team.
“I went knocking on the gaffer’s door to ask about playing but with the best will in the world, when the team is doing that well you just have to sit tight and wait for your chances to come.”
Those opportunities began to come Harrison’s way earlier this month. He replaced Palmer – denied permission to play in the FA Cup by parent club Sheffield Wednesday – in the first round tie at Braintree. He did an effective man marking job on Luke Chadwick in the second half of Tranmere’s televised encounter with MK Dons three days later, then replaced virus victim Wallace for the league game against Walsall.
Harrison is likely to make another starting appearance tomorrow, when Tranmere play host to Chesterfield in the second round of the FA Cup and Palmer will once again be obliged to sit out the action.
Harrison, who boasts 370 senior appearances since turning professional with Tranmere in 2001, insists the enforced time on the sidelines hasn’t taken the edge off his game.
He said: “The FA Cup tie at Braintree was the perfect one for me and I’ve been involved in four of the last five games. I’m pleased with the way things are going. There’s nothing like playing first-team football.”
Harrison understands the workings of the game well enough to know that his future senior opportunities may not be restricted to cup ties and substitute appearances.
Palmer’s loan spell is due to end in early January and Tranmere don’t yet know if the 21-year-old will be recalled by Sheffield Wednesday or allowed to remain at Prenton Park for longer.
Meanwhile leading scorer Jake Cassidy, also a half season loan, is certain to return to Wolverhampton Wanderers soon after the New Year.
Even so, Harrison does not go along with the theory that the departure of influential players will undermine the spirit of Ronnie Moore’s team.
He said: “The beauty of this squad is that everyone will put a shift in. Everyone works, whether they are in the team or playing for the reserves.
“We are all pushing in the same direction. Everyone wants to be fit and ready when they are called upon.
“We are top of the league on merit. No-one gave us those points, we earned them. We know we are competitive and doing well. We as players have to step up each game.”
Manager Ronnie Moore faces a late decision on the make-up of his central defence tomorrow. Ben Gibson is a doubtful starter with a knock. “It will be touch and go to the last minute with Ben,” Moore said.
Ash Taylor, who missed last Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Stevenage through suspension is available once more. Ian Goodison, who impressed on his first senior start last week is hoping to keep his place in the side and Moore says Donervorn Daniels, the 18 year old signed on loan from West Brom last week, has been showing up well in training.